DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 203

CF-JON at Maldonado, Uruguay.
Photo: Freddy White © 1959 - Ian White Collection

c/n 203

CF-JON

• CF-JON de Havilland Canada, Downsview, ON. Regd 16th July 1957. Operated as a demonstrator.

Note: Was intended for Pacific Western Airlines but ntu.

Incident: Dec-1959. Eighty miles from Montevideo in Uruguay. Dec-1959.  Engine failure and forced landing. A replacement engine was supplied from Downsview the aircraft was repaired and flew home.

Total time: 801 hours.

• CF-JON Thomas Lamb Airways Ltd., (Lambair), The Pas, MB. Regd 27-Jun-1960.

Accident; Oxford House, MB. 15-May-1970. Crashed on take-off en route to Thompson. The aircraft collided with trees due to misuse or failure to use flaps; The pilot failed to see / avoid objects. There were minor injuries to the pilot; but the aircraft was destroyed.

Written off

Otter 203 was registered to DHC on 16 July 1957 as CF-JON, designated as their demonstrator aircraft for South America. At one stage it had been intended for Pacific Western Airlines (noted as such in the DHC Paint Shop records) but in the event it became a DHC demonstrator. It was configured as a wheel aircraft and set off on its task. South America in fact was one area where the Otter did not sell very well, with only one civilian aircraft going to Taxi Aereo de Santander in Colombia, two military sales to Argentina and five to Chile.  JON’s sales tour did not apparently prove very successful, either from a sales or an operational perspective. In December 1959 it suffered engine failure and force landed in a small field some 80 miles from Montevideo in Uruguay. A broken exhaust valve on the number 3 cylinder was to blame. A replacement engine was sent from Downsview and fitted to the aircraft, which was put up for sale, with 801 hours on the airframe.

The Otter was bought by Thomas Lamb Airways Ltd., (later Lambair) of The Pas, Manitoba while still in Uruguay and they arranged for it to be ferried back to Canada. Routing was Montevideo-Belem-British Guiana-Trinidad-San Juan-Haiti-Miami-Topeka-Minneapolis-Winnipeg-The Pas. Here it was registered to the company on 27 June 1960, put on floats and painted into company colours of red overall with white cheatline and Lamb Airways fuselage titles. CF-JON became Lambair’s first Otter and joined a fleet of six Cessna 180s and three Norseman. That year Lambair opened a base at Churchill, Manitoba and JON was soon at work in the Arctic.

The following is a description of activity in August / September 1960: “Soon there was flying for Jack Lamb using the new Otter, starting with a type check-out. Then word came that Doug Lamb and Ron Davie had suffered float damage to a Norseman at Baker Lake. Jack and Ron Boyes now made the five and a half hour flight in the Otter from Thompson to Baker Lake. The mechanics set to work with repairs while Jack and Doug flew 200 miles north in the Otter to Garry Lake. Next day the patched-up Norseman was flown 900 miles back to The Pas via Ilford.  Jack and Ray flew a party of geologists in the Otter in two trips from Garry Lake to Baker Lake and then left next morning for Churchill. There they readied the Otter for a 1,200 miles trip to Clyde River on Baffin Island where a survey team needed their services. First stop en route was Rankin Inlet, where 70 gallons of fuel was pumped on board as the passengers ate in the Rankin nickel mine dining hall. Then it was off again. It was important to keep moving while the going was good. As Jack Lamb explained, standard procedure on any of their flights was to complete a charter as fast as possible and get back to base for the next trip. We would only land to refuel and would only eat if convenient. On a long charter it was usual to finish the whole trip without stopping to sleep or to eat a proper meal”.

“An hour south of Repulse Bay Jack was able to raise both Churchill and The Pas on HF radio. He then flew on for fuel at Repulse and Hall Beach. He crossed Foxe Basin to Baffin Island and followed a valley along the south edge on the Barnes Ice Cap to reach Clyde River about eight that evening. After off-loading passengers and freight and putting CF-JON to bed, they over-nighted at the Hudson Bay Company. They enjoyed a few shots of rum as they listened to tall tales in the Arctic. Next morning they took off for home and found that the empty Otter cruised happily along burning 20 gallons per hour compared to 28 on the way up with its load. A tail wind helped them into Rankin in five and a half hours, then they pushed on to Churchill, landing at sunset. It was mid-September when JON touched down at The Pas, Lambair’s home base”.

After this epic trip, the Otter settled into routine service with Lambair and went on to serve the company faithfully for the next ten years. An extract from Douglas Lamb’s diary reveals the sort of flying it had to perform in the Arctic, describing a charter carrying the Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs and his party, which started out using a Lambair Beech 18, which became unserviceable at Baker Lake, requiring Otter JON to fly to the rescue from its base at Churchill: “TransAir moved my Baker Lake passengers to Eskimo Point. I went back up in the Otter and moved everyone from Eskimo Point to Whale Cove.  HF radio packed up. 05:00 the next morning pulled out for Churchill. Put Otter in hangar, changed all tubes in radio. Next morning flew back to Whale Cove arriving at 10:00, still dark. Then Rankin Inlet where I sat for four days, finally away to Chesterfield Inlet. Rolled three drums of gas through the deep snow, pumped the gas into the Otter and took off for Coral Harbour. Ran out of daylight at Eli Bay. Lots of heavy winds, snow and dark. Got to Coral Harbour. Landed with runway strobe lights barely visible, blew tire on landing”.

“Got rid of passengers by sending them to Coral Harbour village twelve miles away. Took tire off. Got Bombardier tube, cut valve out and glued it to my tube and was ready to go next morning. Pulled out for Cape Dorset. Unable to land due to bad weather. Went to Igloolik via Hall Beach. Arrived Hall Beach very bad weather and dark. Sat there for four more days. Finally headed for Frobisher Bay, where the weather deteriorated rapidly. Tried to get to Rowley Island DEW Line airstrip but unable to get out on VHF due broken antenna. Could hear Hall Beach telling me to return to Hall Beach and not go to Rowley. Went back to Hall Beach, sat for another couple of days. Then back to Coral Harbour, then Dorset, then Frobisher Bay on instruments all the way. The meeting the Deputy Minister was to attend was over ten days ago so he got on a Nordair flight back to Ottawa, swearing he would never leave his Ottawa office again. I pulled out for home and was back in Churchill in nine hours, a trip I will never forget. Minus 48 degrees, dark and three miles visibility”.

After its ten years of service with Lambair, sadly JON was lost at Oxford House, Manitoba on 15 May 1970, on take off en route to Thompson, with the pilot and one passenger on board. The take-off run was longer than usual for an Otter. After take-off the pilot realized the aircraft was not climbing fast enough to clear the trees at the end of the runway. He selected the flaps from the take-off position to climb, then to cruise, to increase the airspeed. However this was unsuccessful and the Otter struck the trees, stalled, crashed into the woods and burst into flames. The pilot and his passenger managed to escape with only minor injuries but the Otter was destroyed.

Note: Ian White sent the picture taken by his father . Ian wrote:

Taken by my Father, Capt. Freddy White, of Otter CF-JON taken at Maldonado, Uruguay in 1959. Sadly no registration visible, however this is definitely JON.

The people in the photo left to right are (Mac) Macormack, Mr Nixon, Belelle MaCormack, Sandy MacDougall (DH Regional Manager for Central & South America), Mrs Nixon and the pilot. I do not have a name for him.

All were friends of my Father and the only ones I really remember were Mac & Belelle and Sandy MacDougall. The photo has seen the ravages of time in a tropical climate (Antigua) but may be fixable if you have the time to mess with it. Please use as you wish.

All the best, Ian.

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005), now with added and updated information which Karl has supplied for the benefit of the website.